Skip to content

Archive for

The Wildlife of Eastern North Carolina

I’ve made it clear in the past that I am no wildlife photographer.  The hours are terrible.  The equipment required weighs even more than mine.  Perhaps even more daunting, there has been so much good wildlife photography out there for so long that I’m not sure I’d ever have anything to add.  I have had some luck creating fine art imagery that involves birds, but have not devoted sufficient time to pursuing that area.  I do enjoy seeing wildlife though.  It says something about the state of nature and the land, subjects in which I am quite interested.  In general, the presence of wildlife suggests I think that we’re doing something right and that at least something from nature hasn’t bee obliterated by our footprints.  The later point though is always subject to change but I’ll save that rant for another day.

The Outer Banks and the area of eastern North Carolina that lies to on the western side of Croatan Sound is inhabited by a surprisingly wide array of wildlife species and I thought that some of you might enjoy seeing some of the associated imagery.  This is shared purely in the interest of fun, with a bit of education thrown in.  Art this is not, as you will quickly see, though some of the images, as usual of birds, are I think worthwhile.  When to begin?  Large to small I think.

Just over the bridges from Manteo to the mainland and eastern North Carolina you’ll find the Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge, a fascinating place.  We asked one of the volunteers at the Refuge Visiting Center in Manteo the best location for seeing some bears.  He pointed us in that direction, and we were not disappointed.  We arrived there at about 5:30 in the evening, just before sunset.  As you probably know, most bears are off duty during the middle of the day.  This one was just punching in.  Here’s looking at you kid.

_DSC5716

One can’t help but be impressed with their size.  There was an article in the Boston Globe this past Sunday, page one, discussing the fast growing population of black bears throughout New England and particularly in Massachusetts.  After reading the article I could only conclude that it is just a matter of time before we confront a bear at the Quabbin Reservoir.  Did I mention how big they are?  They are big.  Of note, there are supposedly no bears actually on the Outer Banks or in Manteo.  It would be a very long swim, even for highly aquatic bears.

Sea otters populate the coast line, adding their usual upbeat perspective.

Hunt150528_DSC5361

There is a second, smaller mammal of interest, the Nutria.  These little guys can be found under the docks.  I saw several, but only had my camera this time.  This is not a great shot, my apologies.

_DSC5700

We have to then get to my favorite, the birds.  The White Egret.  These are hardly unique to this area but they are still so interesting to watch, we spent a fair amount of time doing just that.

Hunt150602_DSC5571

 

Hunt150602_DSC5577

We had so many encounters with Egrets that I actually had a chance to create a video about one fishing.  This is a very short video, just over a minute, but you may find it interesting.  Make sure you view it in HD.

Ospry are quite welcome throughout eastern North Carolina.  Indeed, power poles and taller moorings often have a platform on which they can build their nests.  They can often be seen this time of your hunting and fishing to feed their offspring.  They fish at top speed just feet off the ground.

Hunt150529_DSC5419

Ospry mate for life and live for quite a few years.  They return to their nests year after year.  This nest is in the water just off of Nags Head, behind Basnight’s Restaurant, a famous location.  You can eat dinner and watch them feed.  The Outer Banks are of course subject to horrific storms.  Several years back, this family’s nest was destroyed.  With a bit of human assistance however, the nest was rebuilt and the family returned.

_DSC7583

In terms of size ranking, or sizish ranking I really should say since I’ve not strictly adhered to that protocol, we should probably raise the issue that would even make Indiana Jones anxious, “snakes, why did it have to be snakes?”  They seemed to be everywhere on this trip, far more that we’d ever seen.  I do not know the reason.

Hunt150531_DSC5449

Want to know what snakes eat, at least some of the time?

_DSC5660

As it turns out, other snakes.  I would guess that the winner in this contest didn’t start out that much bigger than the loser.  Some of these snakes are quite poisonous as it turns out, though I was never able to find out for sure if this one was.

The bird population stands out as I said.  From Cape Hatteras to inland, the variety of size, shape, color, attitude and behavior seems endless.  My best bet is that this is King Snake though the markings are quite right.

Hunt150604_DSC7488

 

_DSC5681

 

Hunt150604_DSC7452

Yes, even the gulls have an appeal, though perhaps less so to the farmers.

_DSC5706

Last but certainly not least to those who love them, we need to thank the custodians of the beach, the folks who keep it clean.

Hunt150604_DSC7430

So just a brief amateur’s overview.  It is hard not to be grateful though for what the presence of so much wildlife means for the environment.  Yes, much has been lost, but not all.

On the Road: Manteo Harbor

Manteo is one of two rather large towns on Roanoke Island.  I gather Manto is not considered legally part of the Outer Banks of North Carolina, but psychologically they are absolutely connected.  I learned that they aren’t legally connected in a most interesting way.  If you go into a grocery store on the actual Outer Banks, say in Nags Head or Kitty Hawk, when your groceries are bagged, assuming you didn’t bring in shopping bags, they are bagged in paper.  No white plastic bags.  It’s wonderful. I despise white plastic bags.  If you live in a city, they liter the landscape.  They are of course not recyclable.  Yuk. But I digress. I mentioned how much I liked that to a clerk at one point and he informed me that plastic bags are illegal on the Outer Banks because of the hazard they represent for various types of birds and for related environmental reasons.  How refreshing is that?  But in Manteo, they are in fact legal.  However, most stores there have paper bags readily available if so desired.

Manteo Harbor is a lovely place and the Town has worked hard to make it so.  I normally don’t spend a lot of time on locations such as this because others have typically done a nice job, better than I could do, of telling the story here.  The Town and Harbor for instance have had to fight back against hurricanes and related storms, as you can imagine.  These images though are from a nice windy day, which suggested to me that more long exposure work could be useful.  I was relatively pleased with the results, but ran into a significant problem/learning opportunity.  Docs may seem stable, but they are not.  When you’re exposing for ten or more seconds, everything, including your camera, is going to be moving no matter how hard you try to keep the camera and the subject stable.  So, we experiment, a critical ingredient I think of growing as a photographer/person.

Hunt150603_DSC7373

Hunt150603_DSC7387

Hunt150603_DSC7395

More to come.

New Publication in Black and White Magazine

I just wanted to pass along that my one of my Quabbin Portfolios, Constructing Quabbin, received a Merit Award from Black and White Magazine and as a result, a number of images from that portfolio has been published in the June edition.  I’m honored by the selection.  The portfolio should be published on the magazine’s web site shortly.  You can find the magazine and ordering information here.  However, the web site presentation has not yet gone live, but the magazine is available at places like Barnes and Noble and some independent bookstores, so I thought I’d pass this along.  Being on the road and far from any bookstores, I haven’t seen it yet myself and as a result, I don’t know which images they’ve published.  So, here are a few of the images they have to work with, as a special sneak preview.  Thanks again to  Black and White MagazineHunt_140406_Hunt_140406_093054-Edit

Hunt-131230_113525-Edit

Hunt_140117_113557-Edit-EditHunt_131126_104159-Edit

The Tides of Nature and History Meet

The north end of Roanoke Island, within the borders of the Town of Manteo, North Carolina, offers for me the most compelling location I’ve yet found on the Outer Banks of North Carolina.  It’s a largely secluded spot, though visitors occasionally park in the lot to walk or relax the beach (though one needs to watch out for the snakes).  I’m intrigued, and drawn back to the location, by the interplay between history and nature here.  In the water close to sure, as well along the beach are the remains of a dying forest.  The land has eroded and the trees have largely perished.  It is an on-going process down here, as it is in many places.

This is an historic location from the human perspective as well.  An important American Civil War battle took off and on shore here, a battle to control the sounds along the eastern coast of North Carolina.  The Union took the prize.  Roanoke Island came under Federal control.  As a result, near this location there was once a “Freedman’s Colony,” a refuge for escaped slaves from the mainland. It’s a long and possible dangerous journey across Croatan Sound, which you can see here.  It must have seen far more dangerous then.  And of course, this is near to Fort Raleigh, the location of the first English landing in the New World, one that did not go well.  The “Lost Colony” was the result. Now, it is quiet, except of the storms that blow in from the west.

Hunt150521_DSC5047

Hunt150521_DSC5049

Hunt150523_DSC5130

Hunt150602_DSC7324

Hunt150602_DSC7318-EditHunt150602_DSC7342-Edit

More to come.

On the Road, Cape Charles Virginia

The ferry across the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay used to land at Cape Charles, on the southern end of the Delmarva Peninsula.  In 1964, the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel was opened and the ferry was no more.  Cape Charles fell on hard times.  The ferry was quite a ride as I recall.  But it took an hour or so to get across the 25 miles, approximately, between Norfolk and Delmarva, a long time by 2015 standards.  The town is now very quiet.

Hunt150519_DSC4935-2

Ironically, the leading business in town is a concrete factory.  This is the same factory that made the concrete pilings for the construction of the Bridge Tunnel.  It’s now making the concrete pilings for the reconstruction of the Tappen Zee Bridge. As towns like this do, however, they are now rather aggressively pursuing the tourist trade, with some success it appears.  Their ace is their Bay facing beach and a boardwalk that runs out into the water.

Hunt150519_DSC4866

However, their ace in the hole is the sunset.  If you go there at the right time, on a weekday, you’ll likely be able to view the sunset in peace.

Hunt150519_DSC4956

Hunt150519_DSC4978-2

More to come.